Newsletter April 29, 2018










Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to New Delhi on Saturday after wrapping up his two-day informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the central Chinese city of Wuhan

The summit involved half a dozen meetings over two days with nearly 10 hours of conversation for personal bonding between the two leaders.

Both sides hoped to institutionalise this new dialogue tool with India planning to host version 2.0 on its soil next year.

While there was no joint statement, a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement read: “The forward-looking dialogue raised the level of strategic communication about the perspective, priorities and vision that guide their respective policy choices domestically, regionally and globally. It also helped them in forging a common understanding of the future direction of India-China relations built upon mutual respect for each other’s developmental aspirations and prudent management of differences with mutual sensitivity.”

On the second and final day of the summit, PM Modi and President Xi strolled around only with translators and no aides, along the banks of the scenic East Lake, the largest urban lake in China. Later, conversations continued as they took a ride in a house boat. Prior to his departure for Delhi, PM Modi was hosted for a private lunch by President Xi. From India’s national flag and bird designed on the luncheon menu card to peacock sugar lumps for “chai pey charcha” to the 1982 Bollywood hit song “ Yeh vaada raha” playing out during the Friday dinner — special attention was paid to details by President Xi.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called the enhanced communication between the leaders and the political will to strengthen communication between governments and militaries as key takeaways from Wuhan.

Xi, who has travelled out of capital Beijing to receive a foreign leader only twice, in both instances PM Modi in Xian and Wuhan, expressed his fondness for Hindi as well as regional films. Ways to enhance the cultural connect also figured in the talks.





Opposition parties on Saturday took potshots at the Narendra Modi-led government for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with corporate company Dalmia Bharat Limited under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project to maintain the iconic Red Fort.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing to mortgage India’s symbol of Independence, the Red Fort to corporates. Does Modiji or BJP even understand the importance of Lal Quila?” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said. He added, “Is it not true that the private company will now issue tickets to see the Red Fort? Is it not true that if anyone wants to do any commercial activity there, or any function, the private party has to be paid…?”

All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it was a “sad and dark day in our history”. “Why can’t the Government even take care of our historic Lal Qila,” she tweeted.

Minister of State for Tourism K J Alphons said under the scheme which was introduced last year, the ministry is looking at public participation to develop heritage monuments. “The companies involved in these projects will only spend and not make money. They will create amenities such as toilets, provide drinking water for the tourists so that their footfalls increase. They might put up signs outside to say that they have developed the amenities. If they are spending money, there is nothing wrong in taking credit for it,” he said.

“I want to ask the Congress what they did for the past 70 years. All the monuments and facilities around them are in terrible shape. In some places, there were no facilities at all,” he added.





The BJP on Saturday rubbished Congress’ claims of Union Minister Piyush Goyal selling shares in a privately-held firm at nearly 1,000 times the face value, and termed it as an attempt to “gain cheap political mileage by indulging in a baseless campaign” to create “false controversies”. The Congress, on the other hand, has demanded the removal of the minister and a “comprehensive, independent investigation” into the case.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told reporters that the deal “directly exposed” one of the seniormost cabinet ministers of the Narendra Modi-led government. He alleged that Goyal and his wife, who owned 50,070 shares of Flashnet Info priced at Rs 10, sold the entire stock at a premium of 1,000 per cent to a group company of Piramal Estates Private Limited. He held the Power & Renewable Energy portfolio in the Union Cabinet for four months at the time. Khera added that the board resolution of Piramal Enterprises on June 12, 2014, authorised the purchase of the entire stock of 50,070 shares in Flashnet Info held by Goyal and his wife “for a consideration not exceeding Rs 10,000 per share”.

However, in a statement issued later in the day, Piramal group termed the allegations as “factually inaccurate and libelous”. “The Piramal Group strongly refutes the false allegations made by The Wire in their factually inaccurate and libelous story dated April 28,” the statement said.









North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said during last Friday’s (April 27) summit with South Korean President Moon Jae In that he would close the country’s nuclear test site next month (May), Mr Moon’s office said on Sunday.

Mr Kim promised to invite US experts and journalists to watch the closure of the country’s nuclear test site, the presidential Blue House said.

North Korea’s state media has said ahead of the summit that Pyongyang would immediately suspend nuclear and missile tests, scrap its nuclear test site and instead pursue economic growth and peace.

The official KCNA news agency carried the text of the leaders’ Panmunjom Declaration in full and said the encounter opened the way “for national reconciliation and unity, peace and prosperity.”

In the document, the two leaders “confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complet            e denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”

For years, Pyongyang insisted it would never give up the “treasured sword” of its nuclear arsenal, which it says it needs to defend itself against a possible US invasion.

But it has offered to put it up for negotiation in exchange for security guarantees, according to Seoul — although Kim made no public reference to doing so at yesterday’s spectacular summit.





An air strike on Yemen capital Sana’a by a Saudi-led military coalition has killed dozens of Huthi rebels, including at least two commanders, Saudi television reported on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia’s official Al-Ekhbariya television said two high-ranking insurgents were among more than 50 Huthi militiamen killed in Sanaa on Friday evening, without giving further details.

Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television said a total of 38 rebels were killed in the strike on a Huthi interior ministry building.

The Huthis confirmed an air strike on Sana’a but gave no details.

The raid came hours ahead of a public funeral of the Huthis’ political head Saleh al-Sammad, killed last week in a Saudi-led coalition strike.

The Iran-backed rebels have been locked in a war with the Saudi-led military alliance, which since 2015 has fought to restore the internationally-recognised Yemeni government to power.

The Yemen conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between regional titans Iran and Saudi Arabia.









Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel has landed herself in a controversy after she was purportedly seen in a video advising BJP workers that they will garner votes only if they adopt needy and malnourished children.

The undated video is believed to have been shot during Patel’s visit to Satna district of Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, when she was talking to BJP leaders in the area at the local airport. She was heard telling local BJP leaders to take up the cause of malnourished children themselves instead of depending on government officers.

“These officers do not need votes, but we do,” Anandiben, the former Gujarat CM, said while pointing to the officers in the video.

Reacting strongly to Patels’ remarks, the Congress accused the Madhya Pradesh Governor of misusing her constitutional position to advance the electoral cause of the ruling BJP in the state.





In yet another bizarre statement, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has stated that civil engineers are better suited to serve in civil services instead of mechanical engineers. “Those who are from a mechanical engineering background should not opt for civil services. Society has to be built up. Civil engineers have this knowledge… Because those in the administration have to build society,” he said at an event at the Prajna Bhavan in Agartala on Friday.

The Chief Minister was addressing a gathering during the Civil service day.

The Tripura CM has been in news lately for making controversial remarks. On Friday, the Tripura CM stirred controversy when he questioned the crowning of Diana Hayden as “Miss World” in 1997. However, he expressed regret over his remarks a day later. “I was talking about how the handlooms of the state could be marketed well. If anybody is hurt or feeling defamed, I regret this… I respect all women as my mother,” he told reporters.

Earlier this month, Deb, while speaking at a programme in Agartala had said that he believed the Internet, technology and satellite communication existed in ancient time as derived in Mahabharata.





After Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi’s controversial decision to not release free rice for villagers in the union territory until their villages get a clean certificate from the government that they are free from open defecation and garbage, she issued a clarification late on Saturday saying that she decided to withhold the decision “to avoid misreading of her intention.”

“The intention of my direction in linking rural open defecation and cleanliness with free rice distribution is not to deny any poor persons of their entitlement, since I have already sanctioned and directed to provide quality food grains to needy families. And the department is already in the process of procurement and distribution,” she said in her clarification note sent to media.

Explaining that her intention was to address the health hazards due to unhygienic neighbourhoods, she wrote: “To avoid misreading of this intention and in view of the forthcoming commitment made by the union territory government that villages in Puducherry will achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) by June end, I am happy to give them some more time”.





The Centre is planning to amend the POCSO Act to provide justice to male child victims of sexual assault, the Women and Child Development Ministry said, days after an ordinance promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind provided the death penalty for rape of girls under the age of 12.

“The government has always strived to develop gender-neutral laws. It has proposed amendment in the POCSO Act to seek justice for (male) survivors of child sexual abuse,” it said on its official Twitter handle.

WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi had supported a petition on by filmmaker-activist Insia Dariwala, who said “male child sexual abuse is an ignored reality in India”.





Four Indians have figured in Time magazine’s list of ‘The 100 Most-Influential People’.

Entrepreneur Bhavish Aggarwal, Indian-American business executive Satya Nadella, film actress Deepika Padukone and Indian cricket team’s captain Virat Kohli have found their way to Time’s latest issue.

In Kohli’s profile — written by Sachin Tendulkar — Kohli has been called a household name and a champion in cricket. “Even back in 2008, his hunger for runs and consistency was remarkable, something that has become the hallmark of his game,” Sachin wrote.

A piece on Deepika’s contribution has been written by American actor Vin Diesel. “So often in the entertainment industry, we deal in stereotypes, and people get stuck in certain markets. Deepika is the best the Earth has to offer. She’s not just here to represent India; she’s here to represent the world,” Diesel wrote.

Sachin Bansal, the executive chairman of Indian e-commerce company Flipkart, has written on Ola’s co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal. “After all, he co-founded Ola, one of the world’s largest ride-sharing companies, scaled it to more than 100 Indian cities, empowered millions of driver-partners and commuters, and is a flag bearer for India’s consumer-tech ecosystem — all by the age of 32,” Bansal noted. Ola has become one of the first home-grown tech companies to meaningfully expand outside India.

Satya Nadella, an Indian-American business executive, has been added for restoring Microsoft’s spirit of innovation. “Growing up in India, Satya Nadella fell in love with cricket, a sport whose grace comes from melding stars into a cohesive and harmonic team,” Walter Isaacson, a professor of history at Tulane University and a former managing editor of Time, noted. Since becoming CEO of Microsoft in 2014, Nadella has used those principles to restore the company’s spirit of innovation, Isaacson has written.





InterGlobe Aviation Ltd.’s billionaire director Rahul Bhatia has taken over as an interim chief executive officer after its president and director Aditya Ghosh unexpectedly resigned before a board meeting Friday, the operator of India’s biggest airline said in an exchange filing.

Ghosh is leaving at a time when the airline is changing some of its most successful policies such as moving to a mixed fleet instead of operating a single aircraft class, buying planes outright instead of leasing them, and planning a new low cost, long haul service. Ghosh has been IndiGo’s public face over the years as media-shy billionaire owners Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal remained away from the limelight.

Ghosh has quit as director from April 26 and will step down as president from July 31, the airlines said in a statement late Friday. He led IndiGo for nearly a decade, growing it to be the nation’s biggest airline. Under him, IndiGo placed record aircraft orders worth billions of dollars, had a blockbuster IPO and became the biggest budget airline in Asia by market valuation.





Avengers: Infinity War, the big crossover Marvel movie, released in India this Friday and went on to create history. It earned Rs 31.30 crore at the box office, which is more than any other movie this year including Baaghi 2 and Padmaavat. Hollywood, it seems, has arrived in India for real.

In a tweet, Trade analyst Taran Adarsh pointed out the fact that this massive superhero movie’s numbers are important also because it released only in 2000 screens, unlike most high-profile Bollywood movies that usually release in about twice as many screens.

Infinity War finally introduces the primary Marvel film universe villain Thanos as the full-fledged bad guy after teasing his eventual appearance in 2012’s The Avengers for the first time. The film is the zenith of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that began with 2008’s Iron Man and includes nearly all the characters that have appeared in their individual movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor franchises.





Defending champions Mumbai Indians made heavy weather of the run chase but held their nerves in the end to beat table-toppers Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets and return to winning ways in the Indian Premier League.

Languishing at the bottom with only one win from six matches, Mumbai Indians restricted Chennai Super Kings to 169/5, and then returned to overhaul the target with two balls to spare, in Pune.

Rohit Sharma played a captain’s knock with a 33-ball 56 to complete the run chase after Evin Lewis (47) and Suryakumar Yadav (44) added 69 runs for the opening wicket. Rohit shared 59 runs with Lewis for the second wicket before adding another 42 off 21 balls with Hardik Pandya to take the team home.

Earlier, Raina, who had missed a couple of matches due to a calf-injury, smashed his way to an unbeaten 75 (off 47) after opener Ambati Rayudu set the foundation for Chennai with a 35-ball 46-run knock. Mumbai Indians bowled well in the death overs to restrict Chennai to 169/5

Chennai still top the points tally, with 5 wins from 7 matches. Mumbai climbed to 6th place, with 2 wins from 7 matches.





A three-man BCCI panel — comprising acting president CK Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and journalist N Ram — has also recommended former Indian women’s team captain Diana Edulji and former batswoman Sudha Shah for the CK Nayudu award.

Edulji, however, declined the honour citing her current role in the board as a member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA). “Since I am a member of the Hon’ble Supreme Court-appointed CoA, I do not think it is appropriate for me to accept this honour at this juncture. I have discussed the decision with my family, friends and well-wishers who wholeheartedly support my decision not to accept the award during my tenure as a member of CoA. In fact, I had made my decision very clear last year as well when my name was suggested for this honour,” Edulji said.

“Nevertheless, I would like to thank the members of the BCCI awards committee for considering me worthy of this prestigious honour,” she added.





So long as a person is capable of self-renewal they are a living being. – Henri-Frederic Amiel





A little boy is leaving school at the end of the day. As he strolls along the sidewalk,  a car pulls up to the curb,  and a man winds down the window. “Hey, kid, I’ve got some chocolates. Hop in and I’ll give it to you,” he says.

“No. I’m not going to,” Says the boy walks on.

Further down the road, the car pulls over again. “Hey there kid, if you get in my car, I’ll give you all these chocolates, and a big bottle of coke. How about it?”

“No way!  Now leave me alone!” The boy walks on, quickening his pace.

The car again pulls over beside him. “Look, kid, I’ve got a puppy at home you’d love to see. Get in and I’ll take you there. You can have all the chocolates,  and  a big  bottle of coke on the way. What do you say to that?”

The boy is getting agitated. He stops walking, and leans down to the car window. “Look, I don’t care what you promise me, Dad.  I’m NOT riding in this Maruti 800!”



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